Middlebury advanced to the NESCAC championship game for the fourth straight season after a 5-3 win over Hamilton Saturday. The Panthers will take on Trinity, a winner over Colby in the second semifinal.
The win extends Middlebury’s unbeaten streak to 20 (18-0-2) games. Hamilton ends its season at 14-10-2.
Middlebury jumped out early as Kevin Cooper circled the net before scoring from just outside the crease, after the puck banged off a defender’s skate. The Panthers ended the period with a 12-4 shot advantage and a 1-0 lead.
Middlebury scored on the power play 7:10 into the second when John Dawson found Robert Chisholm with a pass down low for the one-timer; the lead increased to 3-0 just 2:16 later with another power-play goal. Adam Foote wristed home a screened shot from the left circle.
Hamilton got on the board 5:00 into the third period. Ricky Reichenbach’s shot beat a screened Yen-I Chen, deflecting into the net.
However, Hamilton’s momentum ended minutes later as Middlebury’s Kevin Cooper converted a breakaway with a wrister into the left side of the net.
The Continentals made it a two-goal game at 11:44 with a power-play goal as Gus Katsuras scored from the doorstep after a rebound. Hamilton kept coming as Jeff Corey scored from the slot after a pass was kicked to him by Craig Kennedy with the netminder pulled.
The Continentals continued to charge with extra attacker, but Middlebury’s Chisholm broke away and sealed the game with an empty-netter.
Chen made 22 saves in goal for Middlebury, while Gabe Tash made 29 stops for Hamilton.